Well, that didn’t last long.
Less than two weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a budget sent to him by fellow Democrats, he sat with the party leaders from each house and announced a new budget deal they said was balanced—and which cuts Republicans completely out of the loop.
Brown said the budget “fully funds” his controversial realignment plan, which involves changes such as keeping more prisoners in county jails. It also “very legally and creatively” deals with Proposition 98, 1998 voter-passed initiative which guarantees a minimum level of funding for K-14 education, and which had frequently come up as a potential sticking point in getting the numbers to pencil out.
Brown sat flanked by Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, as they announced the basics of the plan. While both leaders had some cross words for the Governor eleven days ago, the focus here was on the plan—and on the idea that Republicans had refused to negotiate in good faith.
“I’m a little tired of talking about the gang that refuses to govern,” Steinberg said, quickly adding that he’d rather discuss the work of “the majority party.”
Not that this budget will be painless from Democrats’ perspective. It cuts hundreds of millions more from the courts, and from the University of California and California State University systems. Despite talk that these further cuts could cause some Democrats to balk, Steinberg said confidently that “both the Speaker and I” will deliver the needed votes again. Voting on the budget and trailer bills is set to begin Tuesday.
They also said the budget was “completely balanced,” in Pérez’s words. Brown cited gimmicks as a reason for vetoing the budget Democrats sent to him on June 15. Controller John Chiang said his numbers found that budget $1.8 billion out of whack, prompting him to deny pay to legislators under last year’s Prop. 25—the very same initiative which allows Democrats to pass a majority vote budget. It appears likely that lawmakers will start getting paid again within the next few days.
“The Legislature did a hell of a job,” Brown said. “They don’t like making these cuts.”
He added that the deal was made possible by $4 billion in additional revenues that have come in over projections, saying “That’s real money, in hand.”
When asked when he knew Republicans wouldn’t be part of the plan, Brown said: “When I got my last text last night.” He said Republicans have “an almost religious reluctance” to even talk about increasing revenues.
The trio also detailed plans to further cut Republicans out of the loop, saying they were looking at an initiative next year to allow voters to weigh in on new revenues, as Brown has repeatedly and fruitlessly asked GOP lawmakers to do.
“We’re going to have to look very seriously at an initiative,” Brown said, because over the long term, new revenues will be needed to deal with “the wall of debt” facing the state.
“The Republicans stonewalled the process for months, and as a result we will not be having a special election this year,” Pérez said.
Republicans quickly issued statements criticizing the deal.
“Californians deserve a government that understands that money belongs to the people, not the government,” said Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia.
“While we still haven’t seen the details of the Democrats’ budget plan, our steadfast opposition to higher taxes has helped remind Sacramento tax-and-spend liberals of the need to live within our means.
“In the remaining months of the legislative year, Republicans look forward to passing badly-needed measures like pension reform to fix future state budgets. We will also continue to push our pro-jobs agenda to help the nearly 2 million unemployed Californians get back to work.”